Risk Communication and Miscommunication

Case Studies in Science, Technology, Engineering, Government, and Community Organizations

by Carolyn Boiarsky

Paperback Price $20.95
Ebook Price $16.95
30-day ebook rental price $5.99

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“This book is truly a gem. . . . A superb text.”

—George Hayhoe, Director of the MS in Technical Communication Management program, Mercer University

“This book is exceptionally well written. Dr. Boiarsky has organized the book beautifully. Her analyses of the documents are fascinating and the cases she presents are compelling.”
—Katherine E. Rowan, Director of Science Communication, George Mason University

"If technical experts would read this book and apply its principles, they could prevent future disasters and save lives."
—Tim Ward, Huffington Post

"[A] well-researched work . . . .highly recommended to those individuals who are responsible for and/or are part of complex teams that allow industrial and technological systems to function well."


"Most of us are not involved in projects as large and​ ​potentially dangerous as those in this book. Yet we can​ still learn from these examples how to better shape​ ​our own writing to avoid misunderstanding, place​ ​appropriate emphasis on key pieces of information, and​ ​make sure our message is heard clearly.​"​

Technical Communication


Effective communication can help prevent or minimize damage from environmental disasters. In Risk Communication and Miscommunication, Carolyn Boiarsky teaches students, technical writers, public affairs officers, engineers, scientists, and governmental officials the writing and communication skills necessary for dealing with environmental and technological problems that could lead to major crises.

Drawing from research in rhetoric, linguistics, technical communication, educational psychology, and web design, Boiarsky provides a new way to look at risk communication. She shows how failing to consider the readers’ needs and the rhetorical context in which a document is read can be catastrophic and how anticipating those needs can enhance effectiveness and prevent disaster. She examines the communications and miscommunications of original e-mails, memos, and presentations about various environmental disasters, including the Columbia space shuttle breakup and the BP/Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, and successes, such as the Enbridge pipeline expansion and the opening of the Mississippi Spillway, offering recommendations for effective communication.

Taking into account the growing need to communicate complex and often controversial issues across vast geographic and cultural spaces with an ever-expanding array of electronic media, Risk Communication and Miscommunication provides strategies for clear communication of data, ideas, and procedures to varied audiences to prevent or minimize damage from environmental incidents.


Carolyn Boiarsky is professor of English at Purdue University Calumet and founder and director of the Northwest Indiana Writing Project. She is the author of four books, including Technical Communication: Contexts, Audiences, and Communities and Writings from the Workplace: Documents, Models, and Cases; has published in numerous business and technical communication journals; and has received the Society of Technical Communication’s Frank R. Smith Article of the Year Award.

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  • Paperback Price: $20.95
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-60732-466-9
  • Ebook Price: $16.95
  • 30-day ebook rental price: $5.99
  • EISBN: 978-1-60732-467-6
  • Publication Month: September
  • Publication Year: 2016
  • Pages: 160
  • Illustrations: 29 figures
  • Discount Type: Short
  • Author: by Carolyn Boiarsky
  • ECommerce Code: 978-1-60732-466-9
  • Get Permissions: Get Permission

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